The stomach muscles are often some of the weakest in women’s body and we tend to make up for this fact by letting the back take all the strain. The end result being – our backs end up hunched, tense, overarched, presenting a risk for lower back pain.
Here are few excellent exercises to build a trim torso:
Side Stretches: Keeping your feet hip width- apart and slightly turned out, lift your arms above your head and clasp your hands together, keeping your shoulders dropped. Now, in a smooth movement, looking straight ahead, drop down on to the left, bending from the waist. Try to get low enough for your arms to be parallel with the floor. Slowly come back to the centre and repeat on the right. Do at least 6- 10 drops each side.
Torso Twists: While performing this exercise keep in mind that it is only the waist and upper body that turn- the hips stay absolutely still and facing the front. Begin by standing on your feet hip-width apart, feet slightly turned out and knee bent. Rest your hands lightly on your shoulder, elbows pointing straight out. Feel your back straight and your tail-bone dropping down towards the floor. Turn from the waist to look over your left shoulder. Do 16 turns slowly, feeling the stretch and the repeat to the right.
Upper-body Circle: Here comes a complex version of Torso Twists exercise. To begin with stand with your feet hip-width apart and slightly turned out, your arms raised, shoulders down and hands clasped. Drop down to the left until your arms are parallel to the floor, feeling the stretch all the way up your right side. Hold the stretch for a second and then turn slowly so that you are looking down on the floor, keep your body on the same level. This calls for a lot of work from the stomach muscles. Slowly lift back so that you are facing forward again and then straighten up. Build this up to 4-6 times on each side.
Roll-Ups: This exercise is a series of movement that build up in difficulty, so start with the first one and only go on to the later ones as your muscles strengthen.
- Lie on the floor with your leg stretched out and your arms at your side, palms facing upwards. Pull your stomach muscles back into the floor, tighten your buttock muscles under you at the same time. This will cause your knees to bend slightly and your pelvis to tilt. Repeat 8 times.
- In the second stage, repeat the pelvic tilt, this time moving your upper body off the floor, arms outstretched and parallel to the floor. Your head should come up last. Do not raise yourself far enough to make your stomach bulge or your shoulders tense. Repeat 6-8 times.
- In the third phase, you begin as before and continue to raise your upper body until you are sitting straight up, arms stretched out in front, head and neck in long line with your spine.
- Now drop your head forward onto your chest and roll back down through the spine, holding on a tight to the stomach muscles. Try to feel your back go down, vertebra by vertebra, lengthening out on the floor. Repeat 6 times or till muscle fatigue.
Rope Climbing: This is quite a tough exercise for the abdominal muscles, so don’t try it until you can do the first four exercises comfortably. Start by lying on your back on the floor. Contract your stomach muscles so that you start to roll up until you are about halfway to a sitting position, knees bent, arms outstretched in front of you. Loosely clench you fists, then raise one arm above your head. Lower this arm again and, as you do so, raise the other one. This movement looks as if you are pulling on a rope. If the stomach muscles start to bulge out or quiver, stop. Repeat for 8 pulls.
Crossed Fists: This is a continuation of the previous exercise – and another very tough one!
Start by lying on your back on the floor. Contract your stomach muscles so that you start to roll up until you are about halfway to a sitting position, knees bent, arms outstretched in front of you. With your hands in loose fists, cross and re-cross one above the other, raising your arms at the same time until they are reaching straight upwards. Make sure you don’t tense your neck or shoulders as you do this. When you reach the top, reverse and come down in four crosses. Repeat the whole sequence 4 times up and down.
Scissors: Another tough one for the abdominals! If you’re not ready for this, the small of your back will come off the floor – in which case, stop. Remember, the lower the legs, the harder the exercise. Lie flat on the floor, arms by your side, then bend your knees into your chest and stretch your legs outwards. With your fingers resting just behind your ears, lift your head and shoulders off the ground and look up at your legs. Pull your stomach well in and if the exertion is too great raise your legs, crossing them at the ankles, 16 times.
NOTE: If your stomach muscles begin to bulge or quiver at any time during these exercises- just stop for you are doing something that is beyond them. Also when lying on the back, the lower your legs are towards the floor the more strain you will be putting on the stomach; lift them higher and the exercise will instantly become easier. When you are performing these exercises- try to think of the stomach muscles providing a natural girdle, keeping the body lifted in a well-held posture.
The key to seek prominent results is, consistency. Practicing these exercises, slowly 5-6 times a week will show you considerable results.